If you're already chummy with YA fiction that this post is for you. If you have no idea what this category of books is all about than this post is for you. If you know about it and you hate with the fury of a thousand suns than this post is for you. If you read this and decide that you still hate YA than make some cupcakes or go look at kittens or something. Kittens make everyone happy.
So, what is YA fiction anyway?
YA books are books aimed at teenagers. They cover a wide variety of genres and just like any other category of books there are some really awesome books and some not so good books. In a perfect world YA would include characters of all different ages, because teenagers should be able to books aimed at them, but that are not just about them. Currently, the main characters in YA fiction are teenagers.
The good, the bad and the ugly.
Like any other genre, YA has it's strengths and it's weaknesses. On the plus side, YA is booming. It the past ten years it has seemingly sprung up out of nowhere. There are so many quality YA books out there, that its difficult to not find something you'll love. YA books also cover a wide variety of genres. There's everything from contemporary fiction, to sci-fi, fantasy and streampunk.
But, it's not without it's weaknesses. Some authors only write a YA novel in a YA genre that is popular at the time. They'll write a book hoping to earn money off of someone else's success. At the same time, good books that are co-incidentally similar to the flavour of the month will be labelled copy-cats and ignored.
There is a tendency for authors to whitewash their characters, ignoring that fact that other types of people exist. The world isn't filled with straight, able-bodied Caucasian people. Even if the characters inside the book are POC, LGPTQ or disabled (or any number of things), the person of the front cover is the often white.
YA has many issues, many of which I will cover in-depth.
But, I still love YA
I am extremely passionate about YA and the authors who write quality fiction within that category. I've always connected with that category so that's what I write. I write it not because I'm stuck in a time-warp or that I want to relive my teenage years (two words: hell no), but because I love it.
There are many authors working within the genre to bring about change. They write diversely and educate people on why this is a good thing and why we need more YA fiction that is diverse. I will cover this in the weeks to come.
I'll be posting my full list of recommendations on Thursday, but today I'll start with one book.
Graceling by Kristin Cashore combines everything that I adore about YA fiction: world building, diversity, an array of wonderful characters, great dialogue and a main character with a strong voice. The book doesn't lag and I enjoyed every second of reading it.
YA is a category of books that I love and I hope that, if you don't already love it, you'll come to love it too.
Anjulie Te Pohe
Founder of Koru Mag | Mookychick contributor | Avid reader and writer of YA | Takatapui (Maori & bi/queer) | She/Them | Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org